PREVIOUSLY ON POP CULTURE MYSTERIES…
AND NOW THE POP CULTURE MYSTERIES CONTINUE…
“Where the hell I was I?”
I was all alone, sitting in front of the library’s beep boop machine.
“Oh thank God,” Agnes said. “You’re conscious again.”
“I don’t know,” the librarian replied. “You were making me look up Nicki Minaj’s tweets and then you drifted off somewhere deep in thought, humming a song about someone named, ‘Honey.'”
“Ag, wanna help me wrap this mystery up?”
“Library’s closed,” Agnes said as she pointed to the door, giving me the bum’s rush. “Time to find a shelter, rummy.”
There was nothing I could do to convince Agnes that I wasn’t just one of an assortment of street people who wandered into the library all day seeking free shelter and wi-fi, constantly harassing her to cater to their every need and whim as if she was some kind of city employed maid instead of a trained researcher.
She handed me a stack of papers on the way out.
“Print-outs of everything else I found on the Nicki Minaj snub,” the old lady said. “I still think you need to find something better to do with your time than waste it on pop culture.”
“There’s 3.5 readers who disagree with you, doll.”
I pocketed the papers and shuffled my way out of the building, down the street aways until I found an all-night diner.
“How much for a water, sweetheart?”
“It’s complimentary,” the waitress answered.
“Then keep ’em coming.”
“Wow. Big spender.”
I laid out the file full of info Agnes printed out for me.
The tacks were brass and it was time to get down to them.
1) Was Nicki’s “snub” race related?
I understand I’m the wrong color to be saying that race relations have improved over the years.
However, I am the right age. Though I stopped aging sixty years ago, I’m ninety-five and can tell you there was a time when interracial marriage was a sin, black people were denied access to basic opportunities taken for granted today.
I’ve seen black people shooed to the back of the bus, out of restaurants, chased away with dogs from the voting booth, you name it.
Society kept Peaches and I apart and that will always be a sore spot for yours truly, seeing as how society’s opinion was never asked for in the matter.
But, as an open-minded private dick, I get the flip side. That folks aren’t openly treated like garbage just because of the color of their skin is all well and good, but the aftershocks of slavery and past oppression are going to be around for a long time. Will black people ever feel truly welcome in the world? Are there white people who hold certain biases, some of whom may not even realize it?
The President put it best:
It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours, and that opportunities have opened up, and that attitudes have changed. That is a fact. What is also true is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. We’re not cured of it.
– Barack Obama on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast
By the wayside, if any of you yahoos can explain to this gumshoe WTF a podcast is, it’d be appreciated. All I gather is everyone and their brother has their own show now thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
Did MTV decide not to nominate Nicki for a couple extra awards because of the color of her skin? Doubtful.
Could Nicki’s complaint be seen as a preamble for a discussion for a greater need for diversity in the entertainment industry?
In my day, black singers were considered novelty acts. Today, they’re widely accepted.
Still, you don’t see as many movies where the protagonist, i.e. the lead guy or gal, the one all the action is centered around, is black. There’s some, but not many.
You’ll see a lot of supporting black actors. I suppose that’s progress from my day, where if you were a black actor you were typecast as the maid, the butler, or some hoodlum the cops were rousting.
To paraphrase the Prez’s summation, things are better, but they could also get better.
2) What about body-type-ism?
Hollywood is all glamour and pizazz. Heavy on the style, hold the substance.
If you’re fat, or ugly, or you’ve got a crooked nose, or shingles, or a weepy eye, or facial fungus or any host of bodily issues, there’s a better chance of finding you on the Moon than there is in the next blockbuster.
Is that right? Is that wrong? Maybe that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
People listen to music and watch the boob tube to escape reality. Average Joes and Josephines want to pretend their someone greater than they are and it’s hard to do that when the guy or gal on the screen looks like you.
But then again, perhaps that’s an indictment of today’s looks-conscious world, one that assumes the not hot folk have nothing to offer.
I’ve observed this problem since waking up. You’ve got that Meghan Trainor gal and her All About That Bass song.
Not to scandalize you, 3.5 readers, but as a trained investigator, I’m able to read between the lines and I’m fairly certain “All About That Bass” is double-talk for Meghan’s corpulent posterior.
Therein lies the point. The gal has an impressive set of pipes and can sing like all get out, but she’s a bit on the chunky side, so she has to address that fact in a song.
If you ask me, people should be able to appreciate a good voice and not give a toot about the size of the singer’s caboose.
To that end (no pun intended), Nicki might be onto something.
I feel sorry for today’s musical entertainers.
Do you know what a singer needed to make it big in my day? A pretty dress and a fine set of vocal chords. That’s about it.
I remember sitting in a grand hall, listening to Peaches fill it up, feeling blessed just to have known her.
She didn’t have to wiggle her butt to a beat like Nicki, or put on an Egyptian Princess outfit like Katy, or a meat dress like Lady Gaga or pretend to be an action movie star like Taylor.
Peaches sang. The audience cheered. That’s it.
Today, people have more choices on how to be entertained than ever before, and while that’s led to more artists working, the negative byproduct is that it also requires most of them to engage in some kind of goofy gimmick.
Alas, the music gets lost in the pageantry.
I see the manager is about to kick me out for ordering nothing but complimentary water, so I’ll close with a final observation.
It’s all about the evidence, ’bout the evidence, no speculation.
I see nothing that proves Nicki was snubbed due to race or body-type-ism and let’s face it. Three out of five nominations is nothing to sneeze at.
However, in a world where people are often cast aside because of what they look like, there’s always room for a conversation about how that trend can be curbed.
Personally, as one of the most handsome and modest bastards around, I think that’s big of me to say.
Copyright Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.
All Rights Reserved.
Images courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.